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Powered by, one of the most popular daily English language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates.

Parents wary as school term starts

10/09/2009 10:32 PM | By Abdul Rahman Shaheen, Correspondent

Parents wary of their wards as Saudi schools opening Saturday

Riyadh While the majority of about five million students are going back to school today many parents are wary of sending their wards to school due to the swine flu scare. They are not fully assured of the effectiveness of the precautionary measures being taken by the authorities against the pandemic.

The consignment of some 10 million doses of swine flu vaccine, ordered by the authorities, are yet to arrive in the kingdom. Saudi Arabia delayed the opening of schools for secondary level and colleges by one week to October 10 and elementary schools and kindergartens by two week to October 17.

Parents are also worried about the side effects of the vaccine, especially due to conflicting media reports. The Saudi health authorities as well as the World Health Organisation are trying their best to allay fears saying the new H1N1 vaccine is a mere recipe change from the regular winter flu shot.

Meanwhile, Gulf News learnt the Department of Girls Education under the Ministry of Education, issued orders not to hold regular morning assemblies at schools. A Director of a girls' school in Riyadh, who requested anonymity, said they had been instructed not to hold assemblies as a precautionary measure against swine flu.

Dr Ziyad Maimash, undersecretary at the Ministry of Health for preventive medicine, said the first consignment of the swine flu vaccine would arrive within two days. Meanwhile, teachers are doubtful about the effective implementation of instructions they have received with regard to the precautionary measures.

"How is it possible to keep schools, which have only one cleaner, always clean and tidy?" one asked.

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